A mountain gave birth to a mouse
The multistage meeting between Sargsyan, Aliyev and Putin in St. Petersburg ended.
The Russian president met first with the Armenian leader and then with the president of Azerbaijan. After this, trilateral talks were held.
In general, the negotiations were deemed constructive. They agreed to continue such kinds of meetings at the Foreign Minister level, as well as in the OSCE Minsk Group format.
Simultaneously, the ‘fourth’ party-the mediators from the West, regarded the talks as a Russian attempt to “monopolize’ the resolution process in Karabakh. Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE Secretary General, immediately responded to the announcement about the talks in St. Petersburg, emphasizing that the OSCE, the only international structure officially in charge of the resolution process, had not been involved in organizing the meeting.
James Warlick, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair from the USA, expressed his hope that the meeting in St. Petersburg would be a continuation of the May 16 Vienna meeting, during which the parties reiterated their commitment to a peaceful resolution. It was then that the parties agreed to introduce the instruments to be used in the investigation of the incidents on the contact line.
Naira Hayrumyan, Lragir.am columnist:
A trilateral meeting between the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, held in St. Petersburg, on June 20, addressed only one task – to build up the capacities of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office. The joint communique, issued following the meeting, does not specify how much the staff will be increased by in number and whether there will be any changes in the Personal Representative’s mandate.
In view of the antagonistic positions that the parties had when they travelled to Russia, this is probably the most painless outcome for all the parties – and everyone is satisfied. The Armenian president managed to slightly elaborate the conditions that he had put forward with regard to strengthening the ceasefire regime. The Azerbaijani president managed to torpedo the agreements on the proposed instruments of investigation on the incidents by the OSCE . As for Vladimir Putin, he succeeded in garnering the parties’ promises not to resort to military action and hold onto the assets they had received from mediaries.
Whereas the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, France and USA, managed to prevent the Russian plan sneaking its way into the parties’ plans.
As was particularly emphasized at the meeting, peace has been maintained on the contact line between the Karabakh and Azerbaijani forces, which was regarded as a real achievement.
Before the presidents’ meeting, there had been reports in the Azerbaijani mass media on Baku’s readiness to exchange Arsen Baghdasaryan, who was held in Azerbaijani captivity, for two Azerbaijani raiders, charged in Karabakh for murders. Experts even suggested that Putin could facilitate the exchange process. However, it seems the Armenian side has refused to give its consent.
In addition, the St. Petersburg meeting had been preceded by the conclusion of the Russian-Italian-Azerbaijani agreement, under which an Italian plant, operating on Russian gas, will be built in Azerbaijan with the support of Russian GasPromBank funding. Analysts assessed this deal as Aliyev’s ‘advance note’ for a possible deal in St. Petersburg.
The possibility of striking a deal had been actively discussed in the Armenian mass media long before the summit. There had been speculations about the Russian president’s alleged intention to force the Karabakh conflict resolution plan upon Armenia. The plan, which implies serious territorial concessions, has been discussed for many years and is even perceived by the Armenian side as the grounds for the negotiations.
However, Russian and some other experts are highlight that the Armenian side has toughened its position and is no longer willing to discuss any territorial concessions.
Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani president insists on the ‘de-occupation’ of part of the land. The parties are unlikely to move past this dispute in the near future-the Armenian side insists on maintaining and strengthening its existing borders, whereas Azerbaijan insists on redrawing them. As Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, stated earlier, the situation is such that the parties will have either to accept today’s status quo, or there will be a war.
However, the developments in early April 2016 showed that war is not a solution either. There are people with the opinion that following the meeting in St. Petersburg, the two Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – France and the USA, will also try to organize similar meetings between the presidents.
However, the geopolitical schedule is rigorously moving forward and soon there will be active electoral periods in the USA, Russia and France. That will limit activities pertaining to conflict resolution. This gives one grounds to believe that Karabakh conflict resolution talks will back into a passive state. The strengthening of the ceasefire regime can be regarded as the only achievement so far.
Shahin Rzaev, a journalist, Baku:
A sincere confession: I’m a worthless analyst.
Following the four-day war in April, I was careless enough to predict some breakthroughs during Karabakh talks. I even imagined some kind of conspiracy theories, that it was ‘a contract war’ in order to prepare the public opinion for inevitable compromises.
The presidential meeting in Vienna with participation of the heads of foreign agencies of the USA, Russia and France and further talks in St. Petersburg, involving Putin himself, gave me the glimmering hope for a speedy peaceful resolution, arrived at by the end of the year.
However, these hopes weren’t destined to be realized. There was a squabble between the heads of states on a Facebook troll-status level in between the Vienna and St. Petersburg talks. The presidents started bawking at each other in a Shura Balaganov-Panikovski manner, “and who the heck are you?”
It seems that the main problem in the Karabakh conflict resolution process is the personal relationship between the heads of states. There is: an MGIMO graduate, a son of the Politburo member, who is fluent in English and many other languages, an owner of “newspapers, factories and steamboats,” and also, “a worker”. There is a huge difference in their social statuses. It’s not diplomacy, but rather the talks based on the level of understanding.
Now it seems to me that the negotiation process is not likely to get off the ground until these two are no longer in power. And they will be there for a long time. Serzh will surely have to resign, but he still keeps holding on to the reigns of power.
If Heydar Aliyev and Levon Ter-Petrosyan had been in power, they would have been man enough to make a decision. Whereas those in power now are too shallow.”
The opinions expressed in the article convey the author’s terminology and views and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff.